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Submarine USS Louisiana launches Trident II for test flight

An unarmed Trident II (D5LE) missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming during a Demonstration and Shakedown Operation 31 in September 2021. A similar test was conducted on 27 September 2023 from the submarine USS Louisiana . (US Navy)

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) launched an unarmed life-extended Trident II (D5LE) missile on 27 September on the Western Test Range off the coast of San Diego, California for a scheduled missile test flight, the US Navy (USN) confirmed on 28 September.

This test marked the 191st successful Trident II (D5 & D5LE) strategic weapon system (SWS) missile launch since starting operations in 1989, USN officials said.

The tests help sustain the weapons system and ensure the United States sea-based strategic deterrence capability through 2084, Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe Jr, the director for Strategic Systems Programs, said in a statement.

The navy purchased over 530 D5 missiles to support the Trident fleet, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted in a report released in May on US strategic forces.

The service “has pursued a life extension programme for the missiles, funded at about USD1 billion per year, so that they will remain capable and reliable into the deployment of a new, Columbia-class submarine”, the CRS reported.

“It has also initiated a second life extension programme for these missiles, known as the D5LE II, and has included USD173 million in its budget request for FY (fiscal year) 2023.”

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is working to extend the life of the warheads carried by US strategic submarines (SLBMs), the CRS said.

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